Breaking SharePoint Online

Office 365 / SharePoint Blog

I had been meaning to write a post about how easy it is to break SharePoint, and while that sounds scary, it isn’t quite as bad as it might sound.

First, you need to know that I learned a new concept while I was in Baltimore for training. I would exclaim at several occasions “SharePoint is not doing what it’s supposed to” and Guy, the instructor, would calmly explain that “SharePoint is doing exactly what it’s supposed to; it’s just not doing what you expect it to do.”

Same difference, right?

I thought I would use this opportunity to share a few things that don’t work out OOTB (out of the box), or where additional features would be welcomed.

How to break a list or library

Heed this one – this is real! If you do this, there is no way back from it other than to start over with a clean list or library.

One way to break your list or library is to click on the link for the actual list or library and then to go to the gear and choose Edit Page. Do not do this!

I don’t know why, and Guy in Baltimore doesn’t either, and neither does Microsoft by the way, but when you use the Edit Page function on a list or library page (perhaps to add some explanatory text to it), it actually renders the list itself somewhat useless, and you lose the LIST and LIBRARY tabs at the top of the page, which means you cannot change the settings.

What SharePoint has done is turned your list into a page with a list web part on it. You can still work with your list, but you have to click on the web part in order to make those changes. It’s not a fun experience, and as of this writing, this is not reversible.

What should you do instead?

Create a page from within the sitepages application, and then add the list or library web part to that. It will allow you to write your explanatory text on that page without breaking the functionality of the actual list.

Links list

Wouldn’t it be nice to have links lists allow the option to have links open in a new tab? You can choose to allow links to open in a new window within pages and within discussions, but for the links list, no such option exists.

Another feature that doesn’t work OOTB is the ability to insert links from one site into another. It sort of works, but you have to customize something in the web part settings. There will be a tutorial on this in the future.

Document Library

You would think that if you have the capability of giving a document a title other than file name ID2277_KS_2015, that you would have the capability to show that title and have it link to the file. Another example of a feature we would like to see out of the box. The workaround for this is to create a new hyperlink field with the Document Title and the URL of the file, and then attaching a workflow to populate that field. Again, there will be a tutorial on this in the future.

While we are on the subject of document library, wouldn’t it be nice if we could add the capability of adding a Link to a Document without it breaking the default options for creating a new document? I resolved that one with the creation of DSA-specific templates, but I don’t understand why they couldn’t just allow us to add a feature without breaking other features.

Discussion Boards

Discussion boards don’t let you filter discussions right out of the box. Also, the manage discussions view is broken – it links to replies to discussions, not the actual discussions.

I discovered this glitch when working on DSA Home, and I wanted to filter Aspirations for Student Learning and Keystone discussions on the ASL/Keystone page. It took me a while to learn the workaround, and to fix it you actually need to go into the source code for that feature, so if you need to customize your discussion board views, read this article to activate that hidden lever.


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